New Delhi: India and Iran on Saturday signed agreements including Tehran leasing to New Delhi operational control of part of the Iranian east coast port of Chabahar for 18 months. The $85 million project creates a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.
India is trying to develop Chabahar as a way to gain access to the markets of central Asia as well as Afghanistan. But progress is slow because of concern that President Donald Trump's administration in Washington may eventually scrap the Iran nuclear deal.
A leasing agreement giving operational control to India of Shahid Beheshti port - phase one of the Chabahar port - was signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Later, addressing a joint press conference with the Iranian president, Modi said both countries wanted to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development. "We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway's potential could be fully utilised," Modi said. "We want to expand connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector and the centuries-old bilateral relationship."
Other agreements included a double taxation avoidance treaty, extradition, and cooperation in the farm sector.
Meanwhile, Rouhani said on Saturday it would adhere to commitments under its 2015 international nuclear agreement, signed with six world powers to limit its disputed nuclear programme. "We will adhere to our commitments made," Rouhani said at an event in New Delhi. "After signing a contract, haggling with it is ridiculous."
Under the agreement signed with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of many sanctions.
US President Donald Trump has been pushing for changes to the agreement. "If the US violates this agreement... you will see that America will regret this decision," he said adding his country had always adhered to contracts deals so long as other party did not violate the contract.
Rouhani arrived in India on a three-day visit part of efforts to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development.